January 1, 1995
On December 1 the Galileo spacecraft passed through superior conjunction, on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. Galileo and the Sun were as close as 0.2 degrees apart as seen from Earth. Because of solar radio noise, communication at these small angles is extremely difficult. A series of uplink and downlink tests was carried out during the weeks before and after conjunction, in anticipation of similar conditions to come soon after Jupiter arrival next December. Performance of the telecommunications link between the spacecraft and the Deep Space Network stations was satisfactory.
After conjunction, Galileo resumed sending to Earth data from its observations of impacts of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, including near-infrared mapping spectrometer data on the impact of fragment G and images of fragment W. Galileo will continue sending this data into January, followed by infrared and other data on fragment R, which concludes Galileo's transmission of the Shoemaker-Levy observations.
Data collection for the solar wind experiment continued through December 28, 1994. This experiment is designed to measure the charged-particle environment very near the Sun by measuring the effect of those particles on the radio signal beamed from Galileo to Earth.
Galileo continues to operate normally, spinning at about 3
rpm and transmitting at 10 bits per second to ground stations of
the NASA/JPL Deep Space Network. The spacecraft is currently 884
million kilometers (549 million miles) from Earth and 171 million
kilometers (106 million miles) from Jupiter. It will reach
Jupiter on December 7, 1995, when its probe will descend into the
Jovian atmosphere and the orbiter spacecraft will begin two years
of observation and measurements of Jupiter, its moons and its